Tag Archives: Amber Harvey

Writing a Play


I never thought of myself as a playwright. But a few months ago, the Mayne Island Little Theatre challenged locals to write plays that were no longer than twenty minutes, had no more than three characters,  and depicted a view of island life. These plays were to be submitted blind, no names attached.

Well, finding that a challenge was just what my writing needed at the time, I decided to give it a try.

I recalled a humourous experience while giving a ride to someone, and this became my first play.

My second play started life as a short story about the internment of Mayne Islanders of Japanese origins.

I enjoyed writing the plays, but was of two minds about submitting them. I rather timidly, and urged by friends, while not really expecting them to be chosen, entered them.

I was shocked when the theatre company’s readers selected both my efforts. Tomorrow and for the next two nights,  my little darlings, along with three others by local writers, will be displayed for all to see.

You can probably imagine my excitement.

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My Defining Moment


Two Kids Riding Bikes

My defining moment happened on a summer day on Mayne Island nine years ago. If the neighbor’s grandchildren hadn’t been out riding their bikes I might never have written my first book. As I watched from my front porch, it was like a switch had been turned on and I was back on my bike, pant legs rolled up, pedaling down the road. I was strong, free, and independent, just enjoying life as a kid, like those two. I was eleven again, riding my bike, thinking my thoughts, feeling the same feelings. I had to write my book. That day, my own childhood, the children I had known, the books I’d enjoyed and the world of my imagination came together and spilled out onto the pages. I could not stop writing.

I had grown up in a Saskatchewan village — nestled among wheat fields and grain elevators. Like any village, ours was rife with gossip and legends. My imagination was haunted by the secrets and hidden mysteries I overheard while listening silently and invisibly to grown-up conversations. When I wasn’t skating or riding my bike, you could find me curled up reading. By the age of eleven I was writing the kinds of stories I enjoyed, and though I completed very few of them, I started many. I continued writing secretly while raising my family and working, but, always shy, I kept this part of my identity hidden.

But in 2005 I retired and had uninterrupted time. The first week of my retirement I saw those two kids and I started writing my first novel. My heroine, Magda, enjoys the same freedom I had. On her island where deer roam, fences are few, and farms and meadows lie on fertile land between hills and ridges, she rides her bike along quiet country roads lined with salal bushes, blackberries and wild roses, with her friends. They swim in the ocean and build rafts and shelters from driftwood. But all is not as idyllic as it seems on the surface. Magda, whose father and brother drowned in a sudden storm, learns that friendly people who have potluck dinners and bake blackberry pies for their neighbours, have dark secrets, both gruesome and terrifying. Magda’s adventures and her unbridled curiosity challenge the adults in her life.

I owe my three books and one “on the way” to the two kids riding bikes down a dusty road one sunny day nine years ago. Without that sudden coming together of everything I wanted to express, in one jolt, Magda and her friends would not exist

From my entry in CBC’s Writers Write: “Defining Moments”
http://definingmoments.cbc.ca/mediadetail/18448437-Two%20Kids%20Riding%20Bikes?offset=2?offset=2

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To blog or to write


I’ve ignored this blog for several months. I’ve been hard at work on my fourth Magda book. I’m on my eleventh revision now. I think it’s finally starting to come together.
Unless you’ve written a book I don’t think you know what hard work it is. And I won’t tell you how hard it is because I would never want to say anything that would discourage you from starting to write one. Let’s just say that you must really need to do this, really be obsessed with the need to do it! It will use you up, and make you find resources you didn’t know you had. And if you are that motivated, then writing books will give you great satisfaction.
So, you might not hear from me again for a while. Send encouraging thoughts my way, please. I still have a long way to go.

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Senators and Pensions


I just read about the difference between the income received by “pensioners” in Canada and that of a refugee.  The author recommended we take from the refugee and give to pensioners.  That, to me, is just robbing the poor to give to the poor.  A better solution would be to take away from Senators who are, after all, mostly receiving pensions already, and giving it to the rest of us.

I already had lost respect for the lazy freeloaders who seldom show up for work, but the latest revelations of their greed erased any respect I still had for the institution.

If the Senators were paid by the hour, for the time they spend actually working, and the rest of their income were put into a fund to pay those of us who have contributed to our pensions for 40 or 50 years, they would still get their pensions like the rest of us, and a bonus every time they showed up for work.   Fair?  I think so.

 

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Looking for Myself


As a “human becoming” I often ask myself who I am right now.  The answer differs from day-to-day, even hour to hour.

A lot of people use the term “wearing a different hat” when they talk about the different roles they play.  We all have different hats; some just have more of them.  I remember reading “The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins” to my classes when I was a teacher.  The hats got more and more ornate as he tried to remove them.  Something like that happens to us.  We take on a role, say the role of teacher.  We then find we aren’t just teaching but we’re also supervising a student teacher, so we have another hat on top of the teacher hat.  But we might have to address a group of educators or parents about something we’re doing with our class, so we wear the hat of public speaker, and so on.

Through writing this blog, which bears my heart to all and sundry, I want to share all aspects of my self with anyone interested.  In this way I remove the hats one at a time until the real me is revealed.  Perhaps I’ll be able to see myself under all these hats.  I’m a human becoming.  I hope to discover just who I am becoming some day.

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Scare on a Ferry


We had a big scare yesterday.  On the ferry going to Swartz Bay, my husband passed out.  I thought of dialing 9-1-1 but knew that was pointless right away, so then I got out of the car and went looking for someone to tell a ferry worker to announce that we needed a doctor.  The sensible-looking man I selected just happened to be a doctor!  He examined my husband, who had come around again, took his pulse, and said I should take him to an emergency clinic.  My husband and I switched places and when the ferry arrived, we drove to the Saanich Peninsula Hospital where the response was quick.  In no time at all he was on a bed with sticky bits and wires all over him, attached to a monitor that measured his heart beats, oxygen level, and pulse, and took his blood pressure every so often.  He was seen by a delightful nurse and a serious doctor, given blood tests, and released four hours later.  We learned never to skip breakfast, especially after too few hours of sleep.  This is something we’re going to have to deal with every time we take the 7:00 am ferry.  We will.

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Beta Reader


I write primarily for kids between 9 and 12,  and my books are mysteries and adventure stories.  I never read or write Sci Fi.  But I’m reading a friend’s first novel to look for things that don’t work.

Why am I doing this?  I’m helping out a friend and fellow-writer, someone who has done the same for me, in fact.  I’m doing it out of friendship and gratitude.

What are my qualifications?   I write.  I can spot grammar and spelling mistakes.  I can tell when the flow in the novel is bumpy.  I can sense when a character does or says something that is “out of character.”  And I know when there is too much telling and not enough showing, which brings me to my next question.

How am I unqualified?  I don’t know how much explaining of technology is acceptable in a Sci Fi novel.  I don’t know how much explanation of the fictional society’s peculiarities is enough.  I don’t know if I can skip over the technical details that I can’t understand.

Please give me feedback if you’re a Sci Fi writer or reader, or if you’ve ever been a Beta Reader for someone’s Sci Fi book, on any other genre of novel, with which you’re unfamiliar.

I look forward to your comments.

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Life Doesn’t Make Sense: Remembering Doreen Kimura Part 3


She had so much to live for.

Doreen had reached the summit in her field of research.  But she was still asking questions she wanted answers to.  She would have followed another line of research had she lived.  I can’t remember what it was.  She told me, but because I’m not a scientist, I forget what it was.  Maybe it had to do with her interest in evolution.

Speaking of evolution, what sense can I make of our human evolution?  In order to accommodate our big heads, our mothers deliver us at an acutely dependent stage of development; our big brains have survival value. We learn and learn, explore and create, grow intellectually, until we die.  Death does not seem like a sensible end to creatures with all that brain development.

Doreen enjoyed life.  She had one of the liveliest intellects of anyone I ever knew. Her body, however, fell apart and no longer supported her.

I have no answer.  I’m not sure I even have a question.  But she should have lived longer, much, much longer.  I can’t make sense of any of this.  Can you?

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What’s Your Writing Routine?


Debra Purdy Kong writes “As technology has changed, I’ve found that taking part in social media a few minutes before writing, is now part of my ritual. And, of course, there’s that necessary cup of coffee!”

Like Debra, I’ve used many writing techniques that others have found helpful, like taking breaks and writing at a consistent time.  I find that a cup of coffee in the morning, while perusing my social media contacts, gets me ready to write, as well.  Starting to write before breakfast and continuing after is part of my routine, too. (It helps that my dear husband likes to make breakfast!) I find the morning the best time to do original writing, while the afternoon is a good time to read over my work and edit it.

You can read Debra’s complete blog entry at

http://www.goodreads.com/author_blog_posts/4448690-what-are-your-writing-habits

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Debra Purdy Kong’s Review of Mayne Island Skeletons


Debra Kong‘s review

Jul 02, 13

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Young teen, Magda, has her hands full these days. Not only does she have a part-time job looking after a neighbor’s chickens, but she wants to investigate the truth behind an allegedly haunted house. There are rumors that the deceased owner was a nasty man whose wife and five children disappeared one day. Had they left him, or were they murdered?

Magda’s sleuthing skills are also needed in a very real problem when her friend Brent is accused of stealing First Nations artifacts from someone’s home. Brent’s been in trouble before and his mother has decided that he’s unmanageable, so Brent runs away to avoid jail or a foster home. The police and Magda’s mother pressure her to turn Brent in if she sees him, but Magda refuses. She intends to prove he’s innocent.

Mayne Island Skeletons is a mystery for readers aged ten to thirteen, or for reluctant readers. Mayne Island is one of the smaller southern Gulf Islands between Vancouver Island and BC’s mainland, and a terrific setting. There is a real community feel to this story and a pace that reflects the lifestyle of the 1,000+ residents.

Magda has common traits to any great sleuth: curiosity, intelligence, and bravery, but she also has a lot of compassion. Although this book deals with modern day issues such as neglectful mother, First Nations artifacts, and to a lesser degree, the melting ice caps and endangerment to polar bears (through letters from a friend in the Arctic), this book reminds me of a Nancy Drew novel. It’s partly because of the story’s pace but also because Magda’s so polite and well mannered; something not often see in novels today. On the other hand, you’d never see a neglectful mom or a First Nations issue in a Nancy Drew novel, so I’d call this book a lovely blend of old and new.

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